EU Targets Seeds and Gardeners; Critics Lash Out

By:  Alex Newman
05/07/2013
       
EU Targets Seeds and Gardeners; Critics Lash Out

Critics lash out as the European Union targets seeds and gardeners with a proposed new "law" to regulate all "plant reproductive material" within the bloc.

As part of the seemingly never-ending drive to expand and centralize its own coercive power, the controversial European Union in Brussels is now targeting seeds and gardeners with a proposed new “law” aimed at regulating all “plant reproductive material” within the bloc. Despite strong backing by mega-corporations and genetic-engineering giants, however, the proposal has sparked a furious grassroots outcry around the world that transcends traditional political divides.

Critics are calling on the emerging EU super state to kill the scheme immediately. Over 200,000 people have already signed a petition against the plan. Another 35,000 signed a petition refusing to accept the scheme, and thousands more signed a separate statement vowing non-compliance. The growing coalition fighting back against the program brings together unlikely allies, too: environmentalists, leftists concerned about corporate power over government, libertarians, farmers, conservatives, liberals, gardeners, small-scale seed producers, advocates for national sovereignty, and more.

However, while Brussels policymakers are reportedly scrambling to amend the proposal in response to the unexpected tsunami of outrage, powerful lobbyists and the European establishment appear determined to ram through the nearly 150-page package of “reforms.” There is major pressure behind the effort, which reportedly includes well-funded lobbying campaigns by companies such as Monsanto and other “Big Ag” interests seeking to consolidate their dominance over the seed market.

Top officials are onboard as well. "Smarter rules for safer food! This is how I can best summarize the important package of measures adopted today by the [European] Commission to reform Europe's agri-food chain,” claimed European Commissioner for Health and Consumers Tonio Borg on May 6, when the proposal was tabled in the commission. Citing the recent horse-meat scandal in Europe and the existing byzantine regulatory regime, Borg claimed the scheme was urgent. 

“We have to be proud of the system in place. It's probably the safest in the world,” the health commissioner alleged before the commission, a bizarre hybrid body that includes both legislative and executive power. “But today's proposed reform aims to modernize, simplify and strengthen the legal framework governing official controls, animal and plant health and plant reproductive material to ensure a safer food chain.”

For critics, however, the proposal must be shot down. Among the wide array of concerns expressed by opponents of the measure are the consequences on the freedom of small farmers, home gardeners, and independent seed producers. If approved, the EU assault would essentially outlaw any varieties that were not “registered” and “certified” by massive international agricultural firms working together with bureaucrats in Brussels. Seeds with “patented” genes and big money behind them, meanwhile, would see a major windfall as the propagators of traditional seed varieties deal with the wrath of out-of-control authorities.

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